It's a gripping page-turner about a man who travels back through time to find his lost soul-mate.
All three books will be released this year - an epic undertaking. It's a nod to the 'right now' generation of readers, wanting the next installment from an author almost instantly.
Also epic is her world tour to promote the series; taking her around the U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand. Paullina took time out of her full schedule - between a show in Palmerston North and a book signing in Christchurch - to talk to me:
Hi Paullina, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me. How was your night in Palmerston North? (My home town!)
Hi Fiona, it's really good to talk to you. Palmerston North was awesome; we were in the Convention Centre. The venue was good - the mike was good, the lighting, and the people laughed, oohed and ahhed in all the right places.
Like the series' leading man, Julian Cruz, Simons is well-travelled; having begun life in Russia, then emigrating to the U.S. and London.
F: How much have you seen of New Zealand?
P: I've been to New Zealand six times. This time I'm visiting Auckland, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.
Simons' characters in the trilogy lead us from the present-day California to historic London, time travel being the twist in this tale as Julian is haunted by the loss of his fiancée - convinced she still exists - somewhere in time.
F: You moved around a lot as a child. How do you feel this has informed your writing?
P: I don't like to write about where I am living until I have left. Then a place grows in my imagination. Some places speak to me, but everywhere I notice similarities, - smiles, homes; and contrasts that I find calming and make me more tolerant.
In A Beggar's Kingdom, Simons creates a setting so real you can almost smell it. London in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is a dangerous, overcrowded and putrid place. Simons' knowledge of history and literature informs and colours her writing, giving it the authenticity of a Jean M. Auel novel.
Simons is a Scorpio - her female protagonist may well be one too. She stings poor Julian, and loves him passionately at the same time. This is a steamingly passionate story, though I'm told its almost tame compared to some of Simons' stories.
F: Is the girl worth it?
P: One hundred per cent the girl is worth it! I subscribe to the Augustan theory of love: it needs to be a see-saw of equal value or it becomes out of balance. Julian sees something that is real in her (Josephine-Mia-Mary-Mallory-Miriam), worthy of his devotion.
P: A main theme of the books is grief : how to cope with losing someone you love and wondering how you could have dealt with things differently. Most people don't get a second chance.
As with many time travel conundrums. Paullina tackles the big questions. Freedom? or Destiny? In The End of Forever, the character of Josephine/Mia/Mary/Mallory/Miriam (so far) appears to repeat the same mistakes. Although aware, it seems that Julian can't avoid this either.
Does Paullina believe that time is cyclical (repeating experiences), or linear (evolving)?
P: Firstly time is a human construct; it doesn't exist in metaphysics. I'm not sure it's either. Memory is the only wormhole in time that we have. In memory and dreams we can travel to any time, to the beginning, repeating experiences. It's like a man standing on a hill, on the edge of forever.
At one point the star struck lovers end up in Invercargill, New Zealand. Paullina would like to visit Invercargill, though her publishers won't seem to put it on her tour list - so she has had to imagine it:
P: Being Russian, I have an interest in Polar exploration. Invercargill attracts me as a tiny city at the bottom of the world - a place where I imagine being able to look out and see Antarctica...
I'm told you can at least see Stewart Island on a clear day.
P: I imagine that man on the hill, a new man in a town aghast to have a stranger amongst them...
Although this is a romance, the element of adventure is as exhilarating as some of the encounters. Julian fights for his life often. Particularly harrowing are his cave dives to get to the moon gate portal. Then there is the Great Fire of London.
F: I read you like Steinbeck - I love Steinbeck!
P: East of Eden is one of my favourite books!
Inexpressible Island, the last book in the trilogy, will be released in December. I have to say I'm hooked and can't wait!